This is a quick bit of flash in response to A Scribblers challenge to write a story from the point of view of an inanimate object. Whilst my own version of the object in question is gathering dust in my garage, I’m not sure if it strictly counts as inanimate but I hope you’ll make allowances. If not, the following Link will lead you to what is, at least in part, a musical celebration of the inspiration for this story.
Because he turns me on in his Lycra shorts, he thinks he can walk all over me. He’s right, as well; he knows exactly what buttons he needs to push to get me in a spin. And if he’s honest, he’ll admit that it’s down to me that he’s lost the love handles. But then, he’s a man and men never give credit where it’s due. The treadmill’s lot is a thankless one.
I realise it’s ridiculous that a state of the art piece of exercise equipment should find her circuits aflutter at the sight of a paunchy middle-manager but, as the stationary bike is wont to point out, it was inevitable that as soon as someone invented artificial intelligence that artificial vacuity would follow. Though, in fairness to me, there is something about him. He wipes me down after he’s done, for one thing, and he eschews the ghastly europop that most of my punters seem to favour. Of course, the jazz music he prefers makes it difficult for him to work up any sort of rhythm, but it at least it means he’s gentle with me, and not so disgustingly sweaty as the others.
In the time we’ve known one another, my feelings have only grown stronger. My love, alas, seems to barely register me at all. For four months each year, as the post-holiday inertia takes hold, I hardly see him at all, but every January, like clockwork, he’s back and my one-sided animal-mineral passion resumes.
At times, I’ve caught him making eyes at the weight bench, though mostly he restricts his gaze to the undulating behinds of the ladies in the front row. As his physical condition improves, the owners of said behinds occasionally return his interest but I put paid to that with a simple adjustment of my speed or incline, ensuring the return of those pounds I’ve helped him shed, making him repellent to humans all over again.
By now, he’s completely dependent on me. I’m sure we could have something special if only he’d realise what’s under his nose three days a week, January to November, if he’s not doing paintball. The stationary bike always that a relationship without communication is doomed without failure but I know of husbands and wives who haven’t spoken to one another for years. Our love goes beyond words: I flash my diodes, he grunts appreciatively; to expect anything more would be greedy.
Only, lately I’ve had some real competition. There’s a women who’s taken to flirting with him. To the untrained ear, her wittering would sound innocuous, but there’s a subtext to the talk of squat thrusts and bench presses that even the stationary bike has noticed. It’s not something I can allow to happen, a treadmill should never let herself be passed over in favour of a dumb belle. Options are limited, however. I’ve tried doubling my speed every time she sets her garish size fours on me, but, rather than put her off, it’s left her with the sort of healthy glow that paunchy middle-managers find hard to resist. Downing tools won’t work either; if I simply refuse to operate when she approaches, I’ll be sent to Kettering for ‘refurbishment’. I’ve no idea what that involves but the stationary claims he was a Raleigh Banana until he went there.
Last week, I thought I’d successfully warned her off; a sudden judder in the middle of her warm down-‘unintentional’, naturally-left her with a sprained ankle. It should have put her out of commission for weeks, but, I’d forgotten about the sauna. Love, alas, would seem to have blossomed amidst the fug of frazzled sweat anachronistic faux-Nordic decor. They’ve arranged a rendezvous at the juice bar, though tragically, for her at least, it’ll never go ahead. My last play might be a little nuclear, but I know it’ll work. The next time the bitch sets foot on me, I’ve primed myself to short circuit and send several thousand volts through those exquisitely toned calves of hers. Some may call it futile, but for me it’s a dignified act of hari kari. Once I’m done with my rival, there’ll be nothing left of me for the finest minds in Kettering to refurbish. It’ll be a small price to pay. As I look down from the great gymnasium in the sky, I’ll know that even if I didn’t get my man, I made damn sure that no one else did.